My Olympic Experience - Workshop Manager Paul Gorrie‹ Back to News


Like all our staff I had multiple tasks over the length of this project.

As Workshop Manager / pyro technician I was responsible for keeping the workplace running – Making sure all the machinery and equipment was working and making sure all the teams had enough resources to build the various items. This included installing extra workshop space in our carpark and working with Amy Gilliam on the logistics and permits to get everything to the rehearsals and to the stadium.

I also was responsible for the pyrotechnics for the ring forging sequence in the Industrial Revolution sequence and the large Voldemort puppet for the Nightmare / Mary Poppins sequence. I also developed and installed the burners and ignition system for the flaming bikes used in the Paralympic closing ceremony.


My part in the Opening Ceremony.


Colin Foster, Richard Hince, Will Wyatt and Jim Bones constructed a lighting effect silicon “tongue” and crucible that appeared to pour molten metal into a channel. This channel was built by Eaton lighting and segments were switched on as pyrotechnic sparks ran alongside.

I worked with Wells fireworks to create a unique and specific look for the sparks which had to burn and be fired to match the speed of the lighting in the channel.

Toby Stewart and I designed and built a bespoke wiring loom that integrated with the Galaxsis show firing system used by Phil Maggs form Quantam FX.

The whole loom and connections needed to be robust enough to cope with being setup and dismantled through all the rehearsals and show.

The pyrotechnics for Voldemort were installed in a bundle in the wand and fired from a sequential firing box operated from the base of the bed.

On the day of the opening ceremony Toby and I carefully installed the 86 pyrotechnic units in the channel (in the pouring rain) which was then covered by the grass for the Green and Pleasant land sequence.

I loaded the pyrotechnics into the Voldemort wand then got into my costumes ( 2 – one on top of the other ) and waited with the rest of our show team under the stage until we got our cues to go to the marshalling area in the VOM’s ( tunnel entry to the stadium)

I entered the stadium with the volunteers and took my spot near where the crucible came through the floor and waited until the performers started to remove the grass. Once the grass was removed I had only minutes to double check all the connections in the loom. I found most had become disconnected by the energetic performers and I had to reconnect them quickly. I was working on the last few metres of wiring when the crucible poured, the forging started and the spark run begun. I did manage to get everything plugged in and stood back to watch the volunteers swing their hammers and was lucky enough to be under the rings when they merged and burst into life. It was a tremendous feeling and definitely a career highlight to be part of that wonderful moment.

I couldn’t savour it for long however as we had to remove the wiring quickly and each get to our next entry point and new task.

I got  changed and entered the stadium again – this time with the Dementors and, carrying a battery powered smoke machine and firing box ran to the Voldemort puppet and plugged everything in. the puppet rose out of the bed and I tried my best to stick to the firing cues.

I then worked with the volunteers and stagehands to pack Voldemort into his bed and made sure that the bed ended up in the correct storage area.

My last task was to check and clear the spent pyrotechnics on the lighting segments. By this time the athletes were parading and as I finished up the Australian team was passing by me. BTW I am Australian and I shouted at the top of my voice as they passed “Aussie Aussie Aussie“. The entire Australian team then shouted back “Oi Oi Oi“ then walked out onto the track.

I left the stadium at this point as I had to be back at 5.30 am the next morning to take over the bump out from the night team.

The tube I took back to Perivale was filled entirely with volunteers who had performed that night. They were still in their costumes and we all shared our experiences of the night.

I am very proud to have been a part of the London Olympic opening ceremony and have the opportunity to be one of the huge number of talented and amazing technicians and technical staff that the UK can field. It certainly was a night to remember.